GE Investors Reject 15-Year Term Limits for Board Members

General Electric Co. kept its corporate governance system intact as investor proposals to limit the terms of directors and split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer were rejected during the manufacturer’s general meeting in New Orleans.

Jeffrey Immelt, 57, will continue to hold both titles, as he has since succeeding Jack Welch in 2001. All 17 of Immelt’s board nominees were elected.

The plan to limit the tenure of independent directors to 15 years was proposed by Dennis Rocheleau, a retired labor relations manager for the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company. Former Avon Products Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andrea Jung and Young & Rubicam Inc. ex-CEO Ann Fudge would have been the first board members to feel its effects, GE said.

GE included the proposal on today’s agenda after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission denied a request to omit it. The company had argued the proposal was an attempt to remove Jung and Fudge in violation of SEC rules.

Board members elected for the first time were Mary Schapiro, former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman; Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.; John Brennan, ex-CEO of Vanguard Group Inc.; and Marijn Dekkers, chairman of Bayer AG.

The board’s audit committee’s selection of KPMG LLP was also approved by shareholders at today’s meeting.

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